Electrophysiology and pharmacology of ibutilide.

G. V. Naccarelli, K. S. Lee, J. K. Gibson, J. VanderLugt

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79 Scopus citations


Ibutilide fumarate is a new class III intravenous antiarrhythmic agent indicated for the acute termination of atrial fibrillation and flutter. Ibutilide prolongs repolarization in the atria and ventricle by enhancing the inward depolarizing, slow sodium current, a unique mechanism of action for a class III agent. Atrial refractoriness is prolonged with no evidence of reverse use dependence. Ibutilide may also block the delayed rectifier current, but this does not appear to be clinically relevant. In vitro and at high doses, ibutilide may shorten action potential duration, although this effect has not been noted clinically. Ibutilide can cause torsades de pointes in a rabbit model of proarrhythmia dependent on the formation of early afterdepolarizations. However, it causes less proarrhythmia than sotalol, dofetilide, or sematilide in this model. The pharmacokinetics of ibutilide are linear, its extravascular distribution is rapid and extensive, while its systemic clearance is high (elimination half-life 3-6 hours). Eight metabolites are formed by the liver, only one of which is slightly active. QT prolongation is dose dependent, is maximal at the end of the infusion, and returns to baseline within 2-4 hours following infusion. The pharmacokinetic and electrophysiologic characteristics of ibutilide are complementary in that any risk of proarrhythmia is made manageable by a short half-life. Almost all reported cases of drug-induced torsades de pointes ventricular tachycardia associated with ibutilide have occurred within 40 minutes of starting the infusion. Nevertheless, clinicians using ibutilide can further reduce the chance of torsades de pointes by being very familiar with the criteria for patient selection, and by being prepared to treat it should it occur. When used with full knowledge of its potential risks, ibutilide is a very effective intravenous agent for the acute termination of atrial fibrillation and flutter and is likely to become a significant treatment option for these arrhythmias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-16
Number of pages5
JournalThe American journal of cardiology
Issue number8 A
StatePublished - Oct 17 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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